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OTT platforms are slowly becoming the sweet spot for marketers to spend on branded content. While brands have been experimenting with various formats like web series, films, they prefer brand integrations in non-fiction content and short videos more than fictional content when it comes to collaborating with OTT platforms for branded content. 

Two recent examples of brand integrations in OTT’s non-fiction content are Disney+ Hotstar’s ‘The Great Indian Bride Show’ and ‘Dum Laga Ke India’ for Biryani By Kilo. Other examples of reality shows on OTTs where various brand integrations’ are happening are ‘Shark Tank’ on SonyLiv and MX Studio’s Mixed Martial Arts-based reality series, Kumite1 Warrior Hunt.   

Ranjana Mangla

According to SonyLiv’s Ranjana Mangla, Head of Ad Sales Revenue, the reason for brands to collaborate more with non-fiction content on OTT is the long gestation period of fictional shows and web originals. 

She said, “The gestation period in fictional shows and web series adds a little bit of complexity in terms of brand integration at scale. However, non-fiction shows like Shark Tank India, KBC, MasterChef India and Kapil Sharma, which are more topical in nature provide a platform to onboard a variety of advertisers with the ability to uniquely integrate with the show through the season.”

Explaining with examples, she further said, “For example, if you are a banking, insurance, auto or home brand, KBC is definitely a top favourite. It's a rags-to-riches story based on knowledge and it drives trust amongst the audience for the associated brands. If a brand is seeking to associate with music, culture and dance as a genre then Indian Idol becomes the top favourite. Shark Tank India is disruptive and taps into the growth mindset, hence brands that are on the journey of breaking barriers and moulds in their particular industry/category have come on board in large numbers as sponsors, as well as substantial SOV buys.”

Even a regional OTT platform like Planet Marathi is earning the maximum pie of revenue from branded content through non-fiction content.

Akshay Bardapurkar

Akshay Bardapurkar, Producer and Founder, Planet Marathi, commented, “We have found out that non-fictional content space is something where brands are interested in OTT. Now, we create a lot of non-fictional content along the lines of ‘Koffee with Karan’ shows keeping brands in mind. Branded content can be created very well through non-fiction content like chat shows, reality shows, Bigg Boss, and Antakshari.”

Working with over 6-people brand solutions team, Bardapurkar’s Planet Marathi has over 3.5 lakh subscribers and 10.5 lakh active users. He shared that banking on the growth of non-fictional content, the OTT platform is creating an IP around successful entrepreneurs in the Marathi space and is already in talks with various brands for integrations.”

Pankaj Malani

Pankaj Malani, Senior Director - Brand Partnerships, MX Studios of MX Player, said, “Just like us, brands stay away from dramas, because that requires very specialised attention, and brand integration becomes a challenge.”

Although, he went on to say that in recent times “It has become a mixed bag and brands are open to all kinds of differentiated concepts and formats, as long as it is entertaining.” 

“For example, MX Studios has launched India's first ever Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) reality show called Warrior Hunt with some brands whose mission and vision are in sync with the format that promotes sports. Yes, this is an outlier, and most shows (for brands) don't take more than 3-6 months to produce, but that is what it takes when a category-first takes place in the world of branded content,” he added.

Rajiv Bakshi

As per Rajiv Bakshi, Chief Operations Officer - Revenue, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, short form content is more popular among brands on Zee5. He said, “We have both long and short format solutions. While short form is more popular, we keep pushing the creative canvas to experiment with new ideas of engagement. The aim is to enable marketers to edge a stronger connection with the audiences through our platform. We design the solutions basis brand’s appetite and requirements.”

He further said, “Marketers have identified the potential of the streaming platforms, where one of the key benefits of the medium is its expanded reach. They are open to exploring various formats and are willing to invest in new content/IPs/influencer programs or web series.”

Mangla of SonyLiv also emphasised that going forward, integrations in OTT content are going to increase with the rise of connected TV households in India. She added, “This is going to evolve further because CTV is growing and our sense is that the future will hold differentiated offerings for smart TV-specific brand integration as well. The size of connected TV households is expected to grow exponentially in the upcoming months.”